Category Archives: Monthly Roundups

Never Smooch the Robot: May ’17 Roundup

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Whoof, well, May seems to have passed me with the force of a small aeroplane engine, leaving me sitting on the proverbial runway in its wake with my hair pointing in all directions and smelling of jet fuel. Semester is over and I’ve handed in my finalised, beautiful, in-depth project proposal, and now I have free reign to spend the rest of the year researching at a slower pace and writing my novella. Huzzah!

Somewhere in there, because I can always wriggle in time for this sort of thing (and because I needed a break–I spent the ANZAC Day public holiday tucked up in bed with my laptop and multiple cups of tea), over this month and last month I’ve been trying out a Crunchyroll subscription, which is why there are two–two!–whole, shiny new anime being written about in this roundup.

Oh, and I have a Twitter now! Though it will mostly be used to link to the blog you’re already reading, hey, give it a look.

On the bloggo this month:

ToraDora! Wrap Up Post (oh my gosh guys, we did it!)

Sense8ional: A Sense8 Review (re-posted from Popgates after the death of Popgates’ pop culture section. Now to sit down and watch season two…)

A Magical Girl Education: Sailor Moon (in which I finally watch the iconic magical girl anime in its original uncut form and am full of hearts and rainbows but also a little bit confusion)

It’s a Metaphor, Max: The Storm (in which the other big supernatural plot device in Life is Strange makes no sense either, so I attempt to suggest that it’s also symbolic)

On Lady Geek Girl and Friends:

Web Crush Wednesdays: Trash & Treasures (in which the podcast recommendations continue! This one’s about trashy movies and queer stuff)

The Bittersweet Taste of Orange (in which I peer at a high school drama about suicide and time travel and try to work out of I liked it or not)

Magical Mondays: Flying Witch and Magical Realism (Flying Witch is what I spent that public holiday bingeing. Oh, it is a delight. But also worth writing genre meta about!)

What Are Ya Readin’?

Well, this first recommendation is actually something to watch. Pop Culture Detective’s video essay on the ‘Born Sexy Yesterday’ trope looks into the recurring pattern in sci-fi and fantasy of a woman-shaped robot, alien, or superbeing of some other description, who is naïve and childlike, but while also being a badass and… sexually available to the (presumably male) protagonist. One of those things is skeezier than the other, but the whole thing is an awful mess, and the video makes for a fascinating discussion and exploration of the trope and why and how it’s iffy, and why you should you probably never smooch the robot.

Now, here’s some food for thought: Does Marvel Have a Second Movie Problem? Well, yeah, it does, this article argues. The second instalment in most of the franchises—see Thor: The Dark World, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, and most recently Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, which the writer uses as their jumping off point—are notoriously mediocre and feel… weirdly like filler, a thing that technically shouldn’t be possible in the movie medium. Except for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, because in all my reading and various conversations about superhero movies, literally no one has ever tried to tell me that Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a bad movie.

Forget zombies, says The AV Club: the “hot new villain” in games about young adults is the world itself, a supernatural manifestation of the crushing pressure and sense of hopelessness young people are forced to deal with in today’s existence. While I’m not sure how I feel about “hot new” anything being used unironically, this article gets to the heart of what makes darlings of mine like Oxenfree, Life is Strange, Night in the Woods (a new favourite) and, yes, even Until Dawn, so resonant and powerful in the way they shape their conflicts.

Want to learn about the long, strange and detailed history of queer representation in anime and manga? This is a transcript of a convention panel/presentation on exactly that. It’s long, but fascinating, super in-depth, and full of neat things to know about iffy (or not so iffy, sometimes) tropes and their historical origins. I never realised “bara” as a nickname for buff dudes came from the Japanese word for “rose” and its association with a gay magazine, but now I’m so educated…

Oh, guys, I want to like Sakura Quest so much—the initial reviews were so good! It’s about a twenty-something on a quest for meaning in the workforce! But alas, this show just seems to be smacking me on the head with a rolled-up newspaper trying to get its message across, which is leaving me with nothing but a headache. Atelier Emily’s post about sincerity in the show articulates this problem very well.

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I KNOW. OKAY. YOU HAVE NO CONCEPT OF ‘SHOW DON’T TELL’

To loop back to the theme of queer anime/manga, translator Jenny McKeon wrote a post for AniFem this month recommending some safe and not-gross yuri manga, also briefly exploring the history of the genre and the various problems it can run into. Also rife with problems (but still worth mining for hidden gems, as this next post tells me) is the “boy’s love” genre, which this writer side-eyes for its strange reluctance to actually acknowledge its characters in a queer context and its bad habit of treating its women characters like crap, despite supposedly being a safe haven for women to explore sexuality…

Speaking of The Gaze and its affect on characters within a story, this post discusses comics and superhero movies and how they’re tangled up in the issue of what women want to see versus what men assume (and want) women want to see. Also on the theme of silly writing in the genre, here is an article imploring writers to let superheroes be emotionally vulnerable sometimes, damn it.

And finally, here is a paper exploring representations of fanfiction in the works of Rainbow Rowell (including my beautiful problematic fave Fangirl) and arguing that, hey, maybe fanfic is a good thing, emotionally and creatively (I was lucky enough to sit in and see this presented when I volunteered at a conference last year, so it’s very neat to finally have a link to share it with the world).

What Are Ya Listenin’ To?

via twitter

I haven’t had the chance to engage with much of the ol’ internet radio this month, but I have to throw out a recommendation for Our Fake History. Did Anastasia really survive the execution of the Russian imperial family, or was her miraculous reappearance a case of sensational mistaken identity? Did Nero fiddle as Rome burned, or was that just a rumour fabricated by contemporary Christians and later rulers who wanted him to look bad? Was there a real Trojan War, or did poets just make that shit up because everyone loves a good battle drama? These are the questions this passionate history teacher asks and discusses, attempting to debunk myths, historical hearsay, and crazy-ass theories to get to the truth, while also acknowledging that even if something didn’t happen, per se, sometimes the fake story is still too good not to tell.

I’m going to cause trouble and recommend the giant three-parter on whether or not Atlantis really existed, because that was an absolute whirlwind of fascinating bizarreness, including mythology, underwater volcanoes, Nazi science, arguments about what Plato meant, and straight-up conspiracy theories. I was downright doing this by the end of it:

conspiracy

Or, if you don’t want to dive into something that long and in-depth, try the episode on the Minotaur labyrinth. The interplay of myth and history is a mesmerising topic, and this guy is such a natural storyteller that I was engrossed for hours.

In other exciting news, AniFem’s podcast is now on iTunes and Stitcher and stuff, which seems to mean it now appears in most podcast apps! It’s early days yet, but they’ve got end-of-season discussion, some staff Q&A, a retrospective on Revolutionary Girl Utena and some neat stuff on Ghost in the Shell.

Oh hey, and Eurovision happened! I would like to congratulate the soulful fellow who won for Portugal, but also thank Moldova for injecting some genuine pizzazz into my life with this hot nonsense:

Thank you as always for reading my little slice of the internet, and take care out there.

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Don’t Drill a Hole in Your Head: April ’17 Roundup

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What have I learned this month? Don’t leave your assignments to the last minute, don’t underestimate the power and influence of the Victorians, don’t drill a hole in your head, and for the love of goodness, don’t stick a spanner in an iconic character’s backstory just to justify casting a white lady to play her.

Blog content this month:

Cute Queer Webcomics for the Soul (exactly what it says on the tin. Every time Heartstopper updates I get stupid little flutters)

It’s a Metaphor, Max: Time Travel (in which Life is Strange is back on my desk, getting pulled apart in search of deeper meaning in the aspects of it that make no damn sense)

And ToraDora! episodes 22, 23, 24 and 25. We did it! Wrap-up post coming tomorrow!

On Lady Geek Girl and Friends:

Web Crush Wednesdays: Potterless (I’m just a podcast recommending machine now)

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid: A Cute, Fun, Trashy Domestic Comedy… with Dragons! (in which I introduce you all to my new Problematic Fave)

Sexualised Saturdays: Letting Boys Cry (in which it’s important for men to know they’re allowed to be emotionally vulnerable, which is why portrayals of fictional men–especially ones in typically ‘manly’ and cool roles–are so important)

On Little Anime Blog

My Favourite Anime: ToraDora! (want a more succinct post about why I love this show? Roll on over to LAB where I pitched in to provide content during the main writers’ hiatus)

Nifty Things to Listen To

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Let it be known that April is the month I began my official descent into the McElroy entertainment empire. This extended family is everywhere—you may know them from the seven-years-long-and-still-going-strong “advice” show My Brother, My Brother, and Me, or perhaps from The Adventure Zone or Monster Factory or whatever the hell this is. I’ve been listening to their shows of the “we love our wives so let’s give them a platform to teach us all about their passions” variety.

Shmanners features Teresa McElroy and her doting husband Travis, wherein they discuss modern day conundrums of etiquette, the social history behind them, and the evolution of “traditional” behaviour and customs of society—many of which aren’t as old as we may think. The episode on first dates is one I would definitely recommend, tracing the history of wooing romantic partners from its roots in medieval chivalry (if it actually existed, and wasn’t just something the Victorians made up in an attempt to romanticise that era) to 18th and 19th century courtship rituals to the evolution of “dating” as a concept (without your parents in the room! Amazing!) in the 1910s and ‘20s, all the way through the business of “going steady” in the ‘50s to the Free Love movement to modern day.

You can also learn about the history of the amusement park (thankfully we don’t have baby-viewing chambers in our entertainment alleys anymore…) and the public pool, which are equally fascinating. Especially when paired with the modern advice section that makes up the latter part of the episode, where you have to contemplate whether the ancient Egyptians bathing in the river Nile had the same problems with people flicking sand in their face as we do today… social history, man. Love it. And Travis and Teresa are a delight to listen to.

A quite different but equally fun dynamic is Dr Sydnee McElroy and her husband Justin in Sawbones, where they discuss medical history. I haven’t listened to as much of this as Shmanners yet (partly due to my notably weak stomach) but the episodes on “cinematic neuroses” (featuring infamous BBC mockumentary Ghostwatch, which terrified a nation and is an intriguing story in and of itself) and on the history of medicinal tea have stood out to me for pure fascination factor.

Ah, this family has so much to teach us. Or you can just watch them zoom around in tiny cars.

I also picked up Nancy two days ago (on Amanda from Spirits’ recommendation) and blitzed through basically the whole thing so far. This series about modern LGBTQ+ life is strangely engrossing, due to both its sound design and content, which focuses on personal stories and ranges from moving to hilarious to heartbreaking. There’s been a lot of focus on the L and the G rather than anything else so far, mostly I suspect because that’s how the two hosts identify, but hopefully they branch out a little as the series goes on. That said, it also has a big focus on intersectionality especially in regards to race since both hosts are Asian-American, which is always something good for my little mixed-grain-white-bread self to learn about.

Oh boy, speaking of which, Ghost in the Shell came out at the very end of last month, and by now everyone has more or less forgotten about it except for the occasional internet grumble (partly because the live action Death Note trailer dropped, with almost comically bad timing, and focus shifted to include that nonsense in this overarching issue). Before the hype dies down, though, I urge you to listen to ANN Cast’s episode on it—it’s funny, thought-provoking, analytical in a very approachable and interesting way, and fills you in on everything you need to know without having to give this mess of a movie any of your money. Thanks, lads.

Nifty Things to Read (it’s all anime this month guys, sorry)

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Speaking of people watching terrible things so I don’t have to, I’d like to extend my gratitude and support to all the tireless bloggers who waded into the new season of anime premieres. My God, there’s a lot of trash out there. Artemis’ opinion is worth reading, as always, as is The Josei Next Door’s, and the dedicated fellows of Rabujoi are hard at work as usual, sometimes with analytical results, sometimes with hilarious ones.

For premiere reviews with a more distinctly queer and/or feminist lens, I would, as always, recommend AniFem. If only for some entertaining and thoughtful reading material—Amelia notes what makes a satisfying and well-rounded love story in a way that’s actually very helpful and succinct for writers while ruminating on Tsuki ga Kirei; and eloquently as ever has no time for the harmful burning nonsense that is Armed Girls Machiavellism or Akashic Records of a Bastard Magic Instructor.

Eromanga Sensei could have been a delightful exploration of grief, family, and art, if it were, just maybe, not entirely about the virgin-whore dichotomy and they’re-step-siblings-so-we-promise-it’s-not-incest incest; how promising World End looks kinda shows how low the bar is set for light novels; Royal Tutor is “a trash bag wrapped around a cinnamon roll”; Twin Angels Break just might be the best trans representation we’re going to get this season; Tsugomomo is a cool fantasy idea drowning in its slapstick slice-of-life setting; and Love Tyrant made Vrai embrace the inevitable heat death of the universe.

From general consensus across all these blogs, the most promising series of the season seem to be Sakura Quest, RE:Creators, and Grimoire of Zero. I’ll keep an eye out and see how they progress…

A few other readables:

And more academic papers. So many. I’m looking at putting together another thesis-based blog post a la my look at The Cauldron of Story and swan maiden theory once actual university shenanigans have cooled off, so stay tuned. There’ll be some spicy stuff.

Also, Thor: Ragnorak looks like it’s actually going to be really fun and possibly good. Could it be so?

YES THOR

Don’t drag me back in like this, Marvel.

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Being Meguca is Suffering: March ‘17 Roundup

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“Hmm… This is problematic…”

With more content being produced on this site, I’ve become aware that it might become a bit of a rabbit warren to find posts as they pile up. So from now on I’m going to start doing monthly roundups so recent works are all aggregated in a handy-dandy list, and I can recommend and link to cool things to read, listen to, or watch that I’ve come across and want to share. This month, mythology, magical girls, cute demons, podcasts galore, and learning way more than I ever expected to about School Days

And, of course, my brand new shiny banner went up yesterday (only took me five years to change from the theme’s default…) thanks to Jess Rose! Check out the rest of her stuff here.

Here on The Afictionado:

The Art of Being Self-Aware (in which screw you, The World God Only Knows)

Platonically in Love with Radio Silence (in which I have a lot of feelings about friendship in YA, and this novel in particular)

Swan Maidens, Dragon Maids, and Screwing with Gendered Expectations (in which I apply folk tale theories to trashy magic-domestic anime)

PLUS ToraDora! episodes 18, 19, 20 and 21

On Anime Feminist:

The Problem with the Dark Magical Girl Genre (in which I look in-depth at the magical girl genre’s power of optimism, and how various new works are taking great joy in tearing that apart for edginess’ sake)

On Lady Geek Girl:

Web Crush Wednesdays: Spirits (in which this one mythology podcast is really cool, guys)

Cute Demon Crashers Set to Return with Cute, Comfy and Consensual Queer Content (in which I express my love for this little indie smut game and excitement for its gay sequel)

Until Dawn and the Indestructible White Guy (you thought I was finished dragging Until Dawn? Nope. In fact now I’m doing it on other people’s websites)

Fun Things I Discovered This Month:

Trash and Treasures, a podcast where three friends watch movies or TV shows cast to the wayside and either end up tearing them apart or celebrating their underrated beauty (often both). Without meaning to, I’ve learnt a hell of a lot about Disney through listening to this, particularly the studio’s weird dark era/renaissance that occurred in the tumultuous but ever-so-hip ‘80s. The episode on School Days was also… well, I feel like “enlightening” is entirely the wrong word, but I sure did learn a lot.

Because I’ve actually learnt how podcasts work now, I also discovered Still Buffering, in which three sisters discuss the trials, tribulations and various pop culture Things of teenaged-ness in different eras. The episode where the legendary (but oh so sweet and down to earth) Lin-Manuel Miranda guest stars to talk about being a theatre kid is particularly charming.

Other good listening material includes Stuff Mom Never Told You, a gender studies focused podcast looking in-depth at everything from the history of the pin-up girl to queer characters in romantic comedies and a whole pile of political, cultural and biological discussions too.

I also found Erica Friedman’s website Okazu, a go-to cover-all zone for wlw content in Japanese media, primarily manga and anime, and I found it via Erica’s smart words in ANN Cast’s episode on LGBTQ+ representation in anime (where I learnt, among other interesting things, that I’ve been pronouncing ‘Utena’ wrong for my entire internet existence)

And, though it’s not a new discovery, it’s always a good time to plug Defenders of the Faith, a project (intended to be short illustrated novels) that reimagines historical queens and women rulers as magical girls! So far we’ve seen detailed and adorable designs of Marie Antoinette, the Romanov sisters, and beloved postergirl Queen Victoria among other fine ladies, with the next designs in the works billed as Lililoukalani, the last queen of Hawaii, and Enhedduana, Sumerian princess, poet, and world’s first astronomer. You can find them on the blog linked there and their Facebook page too.

Nifty reading material:

  • Elisabeth O’Neill responds (in part) to my AniFem article and explores one of the ideas that Madoka Magica did well in its descent into the dark side of the genre–the intensity and pressure of growing up and having to suddenly cope with grief and responsibility
  • You know Sword Art Online and the geek-boy fantasy fulfillment it represents? Turns out that the “lost in a fantasy world” genre actually comes from distinctly shoujo roots, as Caitlin Moore describes in this very educational post
  • Remember Hatsune Miku and the Vocaloid craze? I sure do. While I personally haven’t interacted with it for many years, the Miku machine is still going strong, and is now being used as a platform to examine and deconstruct fan and idol culture in an exhibition in Europe, which The Backloggers write about here
  • For some thesis-length anime meta, see Lance’s exploration of Fate/Grand Order‘s portrayal of Scathach
  • Want to understand exactly what people mean when they say “the gender binary” and why it doesn’t always work/is a harmful way of thinking (I sure learnt a lot!)? See Zinnia Jones’ explanation of the Gender Axis (of Evil)
  • Friendships between ladies are great, and we should 100% keep depicting them in media, but Shannon Miller makes the intriguing argument that we should also be allowing and exploring more complex and grey relationships between women on TV as well
  • “When romantic love becomes a universal, convenient motivator, it becomes both unexamined and a silent expectation looming over us: it is a well that can always be drawn upon, even when there may be something else that would better suit a story.” Natalie Ritter asks why romance is integral to so many stories, and asks where people who don’t experience romantic attraction can find themselves in fiction on Gay YA
  • Lady Saika neatly sums up the Nick Spencer Nonsense phase Marvel comics are currently in and why it’s such nonsense (because “Captain America was a Nazi all along” isn’t self-explanatory enough for some people…)

Finally, in the wake of Sunrise’s cringe-inducing segment on cosplay where the panel of hosts exclaimed “we’re not actually sure what’s going on here, wow, isn’t this weird!!” rather than  attempting to even pretend they’d done any research or were interested in the subject of their show, it’s always a good time to watch The Try Guys and see this kind of thing done well (both in that it’s funny, but respectful, and also Eugene continues to dazzle me in that he looks good in literally every “ridiculous” outfit or trend this show puts him in. Turns out he also makes one hell of a Sailor Mars).

And of course so, so many academic articles. Including a whole 300-page PhD dissertation on why Cu Chullain’s wife Emer is The Best, because you can do that when you’re a PhD student.

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